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Caption: Miranda McNeil, Coastal GasLink construction monitor for McLeod Lake Indian Band. Photo courtesy TC Energy.

Indigenous partnership builds wilderness lodge for workers

Sukunka Lodge will house up to 700 workers on the Coastal GasLink pipeline project in northern B.C., with West Moberly First Nations playing a lead role.

The Coastal GasLink pipeline is under construction to link natural gas supplies in Northeastern B.C. to the new LNG Canada liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant being built near Kitimat on the West Coast. Given the remoteness of the location, worker accommodations will be needed at several points along the pipeline route to house the thousands of men and women who will be building the pipeline.

Aerial view of Sukunka Lodge in Northeastern B.C., home to workers on the Coastal GasLink pipeline. Photo courtesy TC Energy.

The first of these is the recently opened Sukunka Lodge, which offers many features and services, including a gym and 24-hour snack bar. The site is presently home to approximately 150 women and men who typically stay at site for several months at a time – so good food and amenities are important, along with other services.

Indigenous partnerships

Coastal GasLink partnered with the West Moberly First Nations to build and operate the lodge. Black Diamond Group will provide all lodge services from catering to security.

Chief Roland Willson of the West Moberly First Nations says the lodge is an important economic opportunity for his people. Photo courtesy TC Energy.

“Sukunka Lodge is a big deal for the West Moberly First Nations and provides an opportunity for employment,” Chief Roland Willson said at the ceremonial opening and celebration. “The revenues that are generated for our community will help us move our nation forward.”

Sukunka Lodge is located near West Moberly, approximately 40 kilometres south of Chetwynd, B.C. and within Dunne-Za and Cree traditional territory. The lodge officially opened on October 30, 2019 and will house workers for several years through the pipeline construction period. Occupancy is expected to grow as work ramps up next year, reaching a peak of approximately 700 in the fall of 2020 when pipeline installation will be in full swing.

“The revenues that are generated for our community will help us move our nation forward.”

Chief Roland Wilson

Sukunka Lodge is first of several workforce accommodation sites to be established along the pipeline route. Other sites include the Lejac site near Fraser Lake, expected to open in late 2019. Construction of the 7 Mile site near Burns Lake is underway.

According to TC Energy, the proponent behind the pipeline, all workforce accommodations along the Coastal GasLInk route will be managed by Indigenous-partnered businesses, offering economic benefits and community capacity-building.

All workforce accommodations along the Coastal GasLink route will be managed by Indigenous-partnered businesses.

Environmental protection, culture of respect

Coastal GasLink and the West Moberly First Nations’ have stated that the lodge has been built and will be operated in a way that is consistent with protecting the region’s natural environment along with the rich history and traditions of neighbouring Indigenous communities.

Notably, each lodge will have an advisor from nearby communities to support a positive and respectful culture in workforce accommodations. Advisors will implement programs, including cultural and community-based activities for workers. This program will allow workers to learn about what is important to the project’s Indigenous partners, such as their traditional values and connection to the environment.

Learn more about the lodge at coastalgaslink.com.